About 20,000 Mainers remained without power early this morning, after a record-setting pre-Halloween storm dropped as much as 20 inches of snow and downed power lines across the region.
Central Maine Power Co. reported that more than 207,000 customers lost power at some point during the nor’easter, mostly in York and Cumberland counties, with a peak of nearly 145,000 customers without power on Sunday morning.
Emergency power crews were out in force dealing with blown transformers, snapped lines and severed tree limbs. But most Mainers stayed off the roads, so there were only minor traffic accidents, despite widespread malfunctioning traffic lights.
The storm set records at the Portland International Jetport, where 5.2 inches made it the largest single snowfall on record in October, according to the National Weather Service in Gray. The previous record of 3.6 inches was set on Oct. 27, 1962, and repeated on Oct. 22, 1969.
The jetport’s snowfall also set a new record for the month, outpacing the previous record of 3.8 inches in October 1969.
The storm, which began Saturday evening, socked interior locations and spared coastal areas, where relatively warm ocean waters kept much of the precipitation in the form of rain. Accumulations ranged from 20 inches in North Acton and 17.4 inches in Bridgton to 6 inches in Bangor and 2 inches in Brunswick.
“The variation was huge,” said Butch Roberts, a technician at the weather service.
CMP crews worked through the night and all day Sunday, assisted by private contractors and crews called in from Canada, said company spokesman John Carroll. By 11 p.m. Sunday they had restored the backbone of the power system, including all hospitals and other critical facilities.
While some crews would be working overnight, customers whose service wasn’t restored by 10 p.m. Sunday were expected to remain without power through the night, Carroll said.
“We expect to have most everyone back in service by Monday night, except for some communities in York County and the midcoast area where damage was severe,” Carroll said.
Getting power back on for those people could take a few days.
Mainers woke up Sunday to a winter wonderland at least a month early. They were divided on whether Mother Nature had delivered them a trick or a treat on Halloween weekend.
“This is a trick, a foul, foul and horrible trick,” said Philip Royer of Sanford.
Royer and his son, Malachi Royer, 12, and a friend, Josh Sirois, 11, were among dozens of people who nevertheless tried to make the most of the unexpected snowfall, descending on Sanford’s Gowen Park to go sledding.
“This is a real treat, real fun for my son, Willy,” said Kevin Burgoyne of Sanford.
In Acton, Drew Klein-Robbenhaar had to dig out a 4-foot-high bank of sodden snow left behind by plows in front of his Route 109 farm, where about a foot of snow fell Saturday night. He said the snow was the latest blow in a soggy fall that has left many fields too wet to work.
“This has been a bad year for a lot of things,” he said.
But with the growing season over for the most part, farmers said the snow did no major damage. “It just slows down a business a little bit,” said Carol Anne Jordan, who was operating the family’s Jordan Farm Stand in Cape Elizabeth on Sunday.
The early storm interfered with some Halloween celebrations. York police rescheduled trick or treating from Sunday to today from 4 to 8 p.m. The Lebanon Rescue Department moved its Halloween open house from Sunday to today at 5 p.m. at the department’s building on Carl Broggi Highway. Rescue Chief Samantha Cole said the party will continue past 7 p.m. if needed.
The snow wasn’t expected to stick around long because the ground is warm and temperatures should moderate into more fall-like numbers as the week progresses, Roberts said.
Sunny skies are expected through Friday, with low temperatures at or just below freezing and highs in the 50s.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard contributed to this story.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: